Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler

August 4, 2010

summer in tuscany Plot summary (with spoilers): Gemma Jericho is a 38-year-old New York emergency room trauma specialist who has sworn off love after being hurt by her last relationship. Gemma recalls her amazing times with hunky Texan Cash Drummond in bits and pieces, leaving readers to wonder what happened to bring the affair to an end. Instead of trying to find another man, Gemma is content to worry about raising 14-year-old daughter Livvie, while getting sometimes unwanted advice from mother Sophia Maria, otherwise known as Nonna.

Their lives change forever when Nonna receives a mysterious letter from Italy. It seems that a Count from her hometown of Bella Piacere died several months ago. Because the Count had no family of his own, he left his estate, Villa Piacere, to the Nonna since Nonna’s father had saved the Count’s life when he was a young boy. Gemma thinks the letter sounds like nonsense or some kind of scam, and worries that Nonna will go all the way out there to find that her “villa” is nothing more than one of those little prefab steel buildings that looks more like a warehouse than a residence — or that the place doesn’t exist at all. But Nonna convinces her daughter to take at least a month to go to Italy and check the place out.

So the three women head to Italy for what will turn out to be a very adventurous time. Nonna gets to see a bunch of childhood friends again, and strikes up a tentative romance with Rocco Cesani, a man from her past. Gemma, meanwhile, meets the handsome, intriguing American artist Ben Raphael, a longtime renter of Villa Piacere who insists that he bought the estate outright last year. So although there is a sexual attraction between Ben and Gemma, the impending legal battle looks like it might get in the way.

The rest of the book then shows how Ben and Gemma’s relationship develops despite her Cash baggage and the estate stuff. Along the way, we also see Nonna and Rocco’s relationship bloom into a marriage proposal, witness Livvie getting her first kiss, and finally hear what happened between Gemma and Cash.


  • Some of the descriptions of Italy were interesting. The book never ventures into travelogue territory, so the descriptions were actually kept to a minimum, but whenever Adler did venture to talk about the ancient sites, I perked up.


  • I hated how the Cash stuff was dragged out through the entire novel. Adler built it up to be some kind of major revelation, so to hear that he died in a car crash and Gemma felt guilty about it because he was coming to meet her was extremely anticlimactic. I waited to hear something as clichéd as a fatal car accident!
  • Some of the writing was just terrible. Consider this sentence from a scene where Ben and Gemma are eating cherries and flirting with each other:

    The cherry juice seemed to have slipped all the way down to between my legs.

    WTF? That’s disgusting, not sensual or sexy!

  • A lot of the scenes seemed pretty repetitive, which made it feel as though the plot wasn’t moving along at all. Ben and Gemma are attracted to each other. Ben and Gemma argue about the estate. Ben and Gemma get frustrated/angry with each other. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ugh!
  • None of the characters interested me in the least. I didn’t particularly like Gemma, so I didn’t care if she ended up with Ben or not. And he didn’t even seem like a real person; just the lead in a romance novel.

I was expecting Summer in Tuscany to be a lighthearted, breezy, fun read — something perfect for a lazy August weekend. But this book was populated with dull characters and uninteresting scenes. I give it 2 stars out of 5.

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